For the 26th year, the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration returns to Southport this Sunday and Monday.
A memorial march will begin the observances at 3 p.m. on Sunday, January 19. Participants will meet in front of the Southport Fire Department on Howe Street. Golf cart transportation will be available for those who cannot walk the march. In case of inclement weather, the event will take place inside the station.
South Brunswick High School JROTC will lead the march down Howe Street to Caviness Park. The crowd will pause for a brief memorial for the Rev. Walter Welsh, a local civil rights activist who died in 2016.
The marchers will then walk back to the fire station for a program starting at approximately 3:45 p.m.
The event will be hosted by Jaxon Francis, an honor student and athlete at South Brunswick High School. He is also a member of St. James AME Zion Church. The Dr. Martin Luther King Celebration Committee chooses a different local student each year to emcee.
Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram will be the keynote speaker and the Save Our Community Choir will perform.
Attendees will hear an update on Project Do Something, an initiative to promote acts of kindness and justice in Brunswick County Schools. Students and faculty who document their good deeds earn electronic badges at the end of the year.
On Monday, January 20, the annual round table Walter Welsh Breakfast is at 8 a.m. in Murrow Hall at Trinity United Methodist Church, located at 209 East Nash Street.
James Clemmons Jr., the first person of color elected sheriff of Richmond County, is the keynote speaker for the breakfast.
Both speaking sheriffs have roots in Brunswick County and are speaking to complement this year’s theme, “Justice for All.”
Rhonda Davis, chair of the committee, says the theme seems appropriate in light of ongoing activist movements.
After Clemmons’ address, The Walter Welsh Award will be presented to a citizen who has dedicated his or her life to promoting racial harmony, tolerance and understanding in the community. The committee chooses the honoree from the nominations of community members. In recent years, it has been awarded to former Brunswick County Schools Superintendent Colonel Les Tubb, former Alderman Nelson Adams, former Brunswick County Schools Superintendent Dr. Edward Pruden, Ed.D., Ivory Parker, and Roy Tucker.
Tickets for the round table breakfast are selling in advance for $12 at churches that are part of the Southport Oak Island Interchurch Fellowship.